Sunday, September 27, 2009

Working in too-short ends: a classic dressmaker's trick, handy for knitters

Is there a knitter anywhere who has not had to work in a too-short end? The fix often smells faintly of desperation such as a dot of glue, or spells a lot of hard work, such as undoing the knitting to lengthen the end. Here is a classic dressmaking technique which may save the day next time you're faced with an end too short to work in by conventional means.

In illustration 1, there are two ends waiting to be worked in: one green and one pink. The green end is long enough to work in by the ordinary "skimming in" method, so first we'll see how that works. Then we'll look at the variation on this method which is a clever dressmaker's trick to work in the very short pink end.

Illustration 2 shows threading the green end through the eye of the needle.

Illustration 3: Pierce the needle through one or two plies of each underlying stitch, as shown.

Illustration 4: Draw the needle up all the way, which draws the end through the piercings you have made. Once the yarn is all drawn through, remove the needle from the yarn end by working the end out of the needle's eye. This leaves the yarn "skimmed in" to the back of the work. (For more information about the skimming-in method, click here.)

With the too-short end, this simple technique will not work, because the end to be worked in is shorter than the sewing needle. So, as shown in Illustration 5, if the yarn cannot be brought to the needle, the needle must be brought to the yarn. This is done by using the unthreaded needle to pierce through one or two plies of several stitches, as shown.

Illustration 6: Stop the needle when the eye is just opposite the too-short end. Without moving the needle, use some form of sewing ingenuity or employ some tiny tools such as a tiny crochet hook, or a needle-threading hook, or a wire threader for hand sewing to draw the too-short end through the eye of the needle.

Once the needle is threaded, draw up the needle, and keep drawing it up. As the needle travels through the fabric, the too-short end be drawn out of the eye, and will come off in the fabric.In other words, the needle will come out naked, but along the way, the too-short end will have been worked in to its fullest possible length, and illustration 7 shows the finished result.

One final note and two final links: The sort of needle to use for this job is a sharp pointed needle, and this is because you want to pierce through the underlying yarn. For more info about the two different types of sewing needles, click here. And, just in case you missed the link above for more information about the "skimming in" technique, click here.

You have been reading TECHknitting on: "working in short ends in knitting"


Anonymous random-charm Cindy said...

LOL. I am well practiced at this method, in sewing and knitting, because I hate to waste the yarn or thread! One thing I would add that might seem obvious but since I have done it maybe somebody else will benefit as well. Make sure to face the needle so the tail will end up going the opposite way from the previous direction of the stitching. Otherwise it could work itself out. I hope that made sense.

September 28, 2009 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger Laura Sue said...

OMG, brilliant.

September 29, 2009 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger WarPony said...

Have I told you lately that I love you? Seriously, every post has me squealing with delight. I've learned more about knitting from this blog than from any other resource I have found to date.

September 30, 2009 at 5:53 PM  
Blogger msHedgehog said...

Thank you for the skimming in technique! I had missed it the first time, and it works brilliantly in frayable cotton. No mess or lumps.

October 4, 2009 at 4:27 AM  
Blogger apryl deeter photography said...

this is great information! i am always wondering if i'm finishing things the "right" or maybe "best" way possible.

this brings up a question i can't seem to find a good answer for: what is the best way to finish a knit washcloth? is just weaving ends in going to hold up? do you have any advice?


October 4, 2009 at 12:43 PM  
Anonymous bibliotecaria said...

I have a question regarding weaving in ends -- what is the best technique for bamboo yarn? I've never worked with it before, but it is extremely slick, and I don't feel completely comfortable just weaving it in. This skimming technique may work just right, but I wondered if you had any experience.

October 8, 2009 at 5:26 PM  
Blogger --TECHknitter said...

Hi Bibliotecaria. This skimming in method is not ideal for slick yarns. Better is the weaving-in method

cut and paste this into your browser to get there...

Even better is working the yarn into the seams (this only works for flat knitting, however.)

Thanks for writing. --TK

October 8, 2009 at 6:27 PM  
Anonymous mugginsquilts said...

'use some form of sewing ingenuity'--Saliva slick works...

October 17, 2009 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Jo Frogger said...

About that "sewing ingenuity or some tiny tools" to thread the needle: the fine nylon loops dentists use to get floss between tight teeth or under a bridge are great for this. I carry a packet of floss threaders in my knit-kit all the time -- they're reusable, usually free (from your dentist) or cheap (about $1.50 USD for a packet of 24), and can double as stitch markers if needed.

May 11, 2010 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Chris Laning said...

I do actually secure ends of slippery yarn using sewing thread, and don't find it too tedious. Thread a needle with close-to-matching color, find your woven-in or skimmed-in end, take 3 or 4 stitches through the yarn end and its neighbor, cut the thread and go on to the next.

In silk, I've been known to finish off woven-in ends with a tiny tiny drop of glue from one of those tubes of fabric glue with a micro-point. You have to be VERY careful it doesn't drip onto the main fabric or it might soak through and make a spot on the right side. Risky but secure.

October 27, 2012 at 10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This tip has revolutionized my skimming in, and casting on for that matter. I think it's actually better than leaving a longer tail and much neater. It would never have occurred to me to do it, if I hadn't read this. Thank you!

March 24, 2013 at 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the best way to weave in with a bamboo stitch?

June 2, 2013 at 12:23 AM  
Blogger TECHknitter said...

Hi Anon--not sure what a bamboo stitch is? If you write to me via e-mail (address in contact-me information) you can send a photo, and we can take it from there. Best, TK

June 4, 2013 at 8:40 PM  

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